The collaboration between the University of Zagreb and the partner universities in Asia, with special focus on Central Asia, started in 2013, the year when Croatia became a full member state in the European Union, which enabled the participation of Croatian HE institutions in Erasmus Mundus Action 2 projects. The University of Zagreb joined the programme as an EU partner in 7 projects, 4 of them focusing on collaboration with Asian partners: Euro-Asian CEA II, SILKROUTE - SILKRoad Universities Towards Europe – Central Asia; Experts4Asia, ExpertsSustain – East and South-East Asia.
Parallel to the projects that for the first time initiated academic exchange of staff and students between the UNIZG and Asian partners, the University of Zagreb joined initiatives that supported structural reforms in Central Asia with special focus on Uzbekistan.
Study visit to Granada, April 2015, UZDOC project
The Tempus funded structural project “UZDOC - Enhancing Quality of Doctoral Education at Higher Institutions in Uzbekistan” started in 2013 as a joint undertaking of five European and five Uzbekistan higher education institutions under the coordination of UNICA - Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe, and supported by the Uzbek Ministry of Specialized and Higher education. It is the first Tempus project that deals specifically with doctoral education in Uzbekistan, and as such presents an important contribution in the process of alignment and connecting Uzbek doctoral education with the recent European developments and trends. University of Zagreb has a role of a work package leader, dealing with the most critical part of the project – writing the recommendations for the development of doctoral education in Uzbekistan. During the project, experience in organization and management of doctoral education was shared between the partners and a number of different activities were undertaken which took place mostly in the course of study visits, round tables and conferences.
PhD exchange student Farrukh Kattakulov at the laboratory of the Biology department Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb; March 2016, project EACEA II project
Within the EACEA II and Silkroute projects the exchange of students, young researchers and teachers focused on collaboration within the agricultural sciences, environmental sciences, ecosystem functioning and limnology.
Student Karina Ismoilova, Uzbekistan & Bermet Toigulova, Kyrgyzstan with their colleagues at field work visiting a cow farm, Faculty of Agriculture University of Zagreb, December 2015, Silkroute & EACEA II projects
The co-operation with the Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Melioration, Tashkent Financial Institute and the Uzbekistan State Institute of Arts and Culture led to new initiatives for bilateral collaboration and academic exchange within the Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility project as well as UNIZG participation in 2 Erasmus+ K2 Strategic Partnerships projects: “IUCLAND – International University Cooperation on Land Protection in European-Asiatic Countries” (with the partners from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan; “KyrMedu - Advancing University Education in Biomedical Engineering and Health Management in Kyrgyzstan“.
What started as a formal, academic relation in the above mentioned projects, burdened with many barriers – from language to culture – soon turned into a relaxed, friendly and very informative experience and partnership. All sides realised they had a lot to offer and to learn from each other, despite different educational histories and approaches. Plans are underway to continue and extend the ongoing co-operation under the hub of the Erasmus+ programme.
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